Community Food Systems Minor
Engaging with local food systems to build a more just, equitable future
The Minor in Community Food Systems (CFS) at Cornell engages undergraduate students with issues related to food security, food sovereignty, and food justice. The CFS Minor integrates interdisciplinary course work with community-based learning and research opportunities that together help students contribute to more sustainable and equitable food systems.
About the minor
This academic program takes an interdisciplinary and engaged approach to learning about the social and ecological dimensions of diverse food systems. The Minor allows students to enhance their coursework in food studies with practicums that provide professional work experience with community partner organizations. Students collaborate on final projects with their peers in the program.
Students will take a mix of core and elective courses and also participate in a required practicum learning experience. The core courses ensure all CFS minor students are trained in some foundational concepts and core questions related to sustainable, equitable food systems, and elective courses allow students to examine additional dimensions. The practicums offer students chances to engage locally, nationally, and/or internationally in food-related projects in communities.
There are three main “perspectives” in the minor: ethical + epistemic, ecological, and agricultural. The core courses also support the practicum endeavor: the pre-departure orientation course prepares students for their engaged work with organizations, while the CFS capstone guides students through critical reflection on their experiences.
To satisfy the requirements for the Community Food Systems (CFS) Minor, students must complete a total of 5 courses for a minimum requirement of 16 credits*, AND a community-based practicum. Students must take all courses for a letter grade and achieve a final grade of “C” or better.
*all courses are expected to be 3 credits with the exception of the orientation to the practicum, which is a one-credit course.
- Introductory Course: DSOC 3400: Agriculture, Food, Sustainability and Social Justice (offered annually)
- Practicum pre-departure course: DSOC 4010: Community Food Systems Minor Practicum Orientation. (offered annually in the Spring semester)
- Capstone course post-practicum: DSOC 4400: CFS Capstone Course
- Three Elective Courses, at least one from each category – Ethical/Epistemic, Ecological, Agricultural
Ethical and epistemic perspectives courses consider how food systems knowledge is produced and distributed, and the ethical questions related to food systems. Examples of these courses include:
AEM 3385: Social Entrepreneurship Practicum: Anabel's Grocery
AIIS/AMST/NTRES 3330: Ways of Knowing: Indigenous and Place-Based Ecological Knowledge
ANSC 4140: Ethics and Animal Science
BSOC 2061: Ethics and the Environment
BSOC 2581 - Environmental History
BSOC 3311 - Environmental Governance
GDEV 3150 - Climate Change and Global Development: Living in the Anthropocene
GDEV/DSOC 4312: Migration in the Americas: Engaged Research Methods and Practices
NTRES 3320: Introduction to Ethics and Environment
PHIL 1440: The Ethics of Eating
PLHRT 4270: Seed to Supper I: The Role of the Garden in Community Food Security (**cannot count for both elective & practicum)
Ecological perspectives courses examine human-environment relationships that shape food systems and include courses such as:
AEM 2500: Environmental and Resource Economics
AEM/ANSC/CHEME/FDSC 4880: Global Food, Energy, and Water Nexus: Engage the US, China and India for Sustainability
ANSC 1120: Sustainable Animal Husbandry
BEE 3299: Sustainable Development
BIOEE 3611: Field Ecology
BSOC/DSOC/GDEV/NTRES 2201: Society and Natural Resources
BIOEE 1610: Introductory Biology: Ecology and the Environment
GDEV 3030: FoodCycle: Systems Thinking Toward Circular Economy for Organic Resources
GDEV/IARD/PLSCS 4140: Global Cropping Systems and Sustainable Development
ENTOM 2030: Honey Bees: Their Intriguing Biology and Interactions with Humans and More
PLHRT 4730: Ecology of Agricultural Systems
Agricultural perspectives consider agri-food networks and today’s major issues for sustainable food production. These courses include:
- AEM/NS 4450: Toward a Sustainable Global Food System: Food Policy for Developing Countries
- BIOEE/BSOC/STS 4690: Food, Agriculture, and Society
- PLSCS 1900: Sustainable Agriculture: Food, Farming, and the Future
GDEV 4020 - Agriculture in Developing Nations I
PLSCI/GDEV 1300 - Just Food: Exploring the Modern Food System
GDEV 4140 - Global Cropping Systems and Sustainable Development
- GDEV/DSOC 3060: Farmworkers: Contemporary Issues
PLHRT 1250 - Organic Vegetable Gardening
PLHRT 4450 - Ecological Orchard Management
- PLSCS 3800: Principles and Practices in Certified Organic Agriculture
Elective courses that count towards the Minor are regularly updated to reflect the most current offerings. Coordinators for the CFS Minor can help individual students ensure they meet the elective requirements.
The CFS Minor program is oriented towards engaged, experiential learning, and aims to provide students with each of the following:
- Deeper comprehension of food system dimensions, dynamics, and inequalities via course-work and engaged learning
- Opportunities to meet professional development goals through work experience with an organization
- Rich peer-learning and collaboration with a cohort of fellow CFS students
- Considerations of rural and urban, regional and international food system issues through both course teachings and through diverse practicum opportunities
- Connections with other community-engagement projects within and outside of Cornell
Students are advised to take the introductory course, DSOC 3400, before exploring possibilities for their practicum experience. Practicums are typically completed over summer break and require completion of the 6-week pre-departure course in the Spring semester. The CFS capstone course is taken in the Fall semester following the completion of the CFS practicum. Elective courses can be taken at any time.
Students who intend to complete a minor in Community Food Systems are required to fill out this declaration of intent form. Any questions can be directed to the Community Food Systems Minor Coordinator, via email at: communityfoodsystems [at] cornell.edu.
Engage with community food systems through experiential learning
The practicum experience allows CFS Minor participants to “learn by doing” through engagement with small-scale, community-focused food system projects. This aspect of the CFS Minor is also a professional development opportunity. CFS students typically complete the practicum between June and August, for a 10-week period at 17 hours per week as a minimum. See more information below about previous community partner groups and possible practicum projects.
To be eligible to apply to participate in a community-based practicum students must be at least a sophomore and have completed the CFS Minor Introductory Course, DSoc 3400: Agriculture, Food, and Society.
- October - December: Practicum opportunities posted on CFS Website
- December 31: Applications due
- January: Practicum placements announced
- Final 8 weeks of the Spring semester: Required practicum orientation course (DSOC 4010)
- First week of June through second week of August: Duration of practicum
The Community Food Systems minor is committed to partnering with community-based organizations leading food security, food sovereignty, and food justice initiatives in New York and around the world. As you consider your CFS practicum experience, get to know some of our partners.
- Capital Roots (Troy, NY)
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (Ithaca, NY)
- Cornell Farmworker Program (New York State)
- East New York Farms! (Brooklyn, NY)
- Green Monday (Kowloon, Hong Kong)
- Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming (Ithaca, NY)
- Soils, Food, and Healthy Communities (Malawi)
- Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (Pocantico Hills, NY)
- The Youth Farm Project (Ithaca, NY)
Careers in Community Food Systems
Students who have completed the CFS Minor have continued work in groups focused on social equity, including in NGOs, University-based extension services, government agencies, nonprofits, benefit corporations (“B-Corp”) and philanthropic organizations.
- Program director/coordinator/staff member
- Community development professional
- Community organizer/advocate
- Charitable foundation/land trust coordinator
- Community development professional
- City, state or federal agriculture representative
- Policy maker
- Food advocate for public sectors
- Benefit Corporation (“B-Corp”) staff
- Worker-owned/cooperative business advocate
- Fair trade advocate
- Food services manager
- Extension associate
- University-based educator
- K-12 curriculum development
- Farm educator
- Research associate